KISS OF LIFE, sequel to last year’s GENERATION DEAD, came out on Tuesday and I read both of them last week in Lisbon. Since plot points are running together in my mind, I’m just going to review them both as one with no major spoilers.
All over the US, newly dead teens are reanimating. But these aren’t your typical zombies – they are merely “differently biotic” and they just want to continue living with their families and going to school. For whatever reason, there are ton of them at Oakvale High School and non-dead goth girl Phoebe becomes their number one sympathizer and supporter. But not everyone is so accepting of the “living impaired”…
GENERATION DEAD got very mixed reviews – some praised it for its themes of tolerance while others derided it for its stereotypical and one-dimensional characters and overtly preachy tone. KISS OF LIFE is really more of the same, though it does add some novelty with long passages straight from the mind of a zombie (choppy and annoying to read, but certainly innovative). While the whole concept is intriguing, 800 pages of zombie inaction prove there just isn’t enough inherent drama in a bunch of peaceful zombies who yearn to be loved.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t some bright spots. Waters humorously skewers goth culture and marketers by inventing a whole line of products ostensibly for zombies but really for zombie wannabes. The Slydellco products include t-shirts with snappy sayings, Z (the body spray for the active Undead Male), Lady Z, and Kiss of Life lip gloss worn to great effect by highly functioning zombie Karen who “passes” as alive to keep her salesgirl gig at the Oakvale Mall.
Speaking of Karen, she was probably my favorite character. See that model on the GENERATION DEAD cover? That could be Karen. But I guess it isn’t – because Karen isn’t a cheerleader. In fact, no zombies go out for cheerleading (false advertising!) which was kind of disappointing, really. In any case, Karen was the most lively and entertaining of all the characters and I would have preferred to have her as the main character instead of dull Phoebe (though I did love Phoebe’s bright wardrobe phase). Oh, and the KISS OF LIFE cover is inaccurate as well, just so you know.
KISS OF LIFE ends on a cliffhanger which has to mean there is a third book on its way. Not sure I am really up for another 400 pages of this story though.